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author's profile photo Matt Fraser

Someone Doesn't Like Me? Oh, My Wounded Ego!

I just noticed something interesting. Recently my response to a question was accepted as the "best answer," which of course is always gratifying, but despite that it has clearly been downvoted:

Oh, the wound to my ego! No one else participated in the question except the OP and myself. I found myself re-reading my answer, trying to find where I might have said something inaccurate, misleading, or anything else that anyone could find objectionable. Obviously, I want to be as helpful as I reasonably can be here, so if someone takes the time to downvote my answer, I want to know why, so I can do better next time. In this case, however, I really can't figure it out.

Or, is it more generalized than that? As a moderator, I necessarily have to sometimes step on a few toes. Not often, and I try to be polite when I do, but it stands to reason that occasionally I'm going to do or write something that makes someone unhappy. Perhaps I deleted someone's post? Perhaps I agreed with a moderator alert, and took appropriate action? Or maybe it's when I've disagreed with a moderator alert? Yes, that happens too.

Or, it could just be a bug. There was, after all, a bug reported not long ago where, if the "up/downvote" score on a post was at zero, and someone accidentally clicked the upvote, then clicked the downvote to undo it, instead of returning the score to zero it would change the score to -1. As far as I know, that's still how the site operates (it assumes you clicked on upvote when you meant to click on downvote, instead of assuming you didn't mean to click on anything, with the net result that it's essentially impossible to return the score to 0 without the aid of a second person).

Ah well.

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  • Mar 13, 2017 at 05:50 PM

    On a small screen of smartphone it's relatively easy to touch the down vote button by mistake :)

  • Mar 13, 2017 at 05:55 PM

    Welcome to the club, Matt! Forget downvoting, my posts were even reported to the moderators as "offensive" and "unprofessional" when I merely inquired whether OP didn't find any useful results in Google.

    I think I found the post you meant and am quite confused by the votes too. In this particular case it could be some UI-induced problem. But overall it's not unusual to see answers downvoted for no apparent reason (other than OP not happy they have to do their job themselves).

    P.S. I've already asked if we can see who downvoted. For the same reasons - want to know if it's something I can learn from or just disgruntled OP & friends. Looks like that ain't gonna happen.

    P.P.S. I bet friendly SCN minions are already combing through your profile and upvoting your answers as we speak. Fixed it for you. :)

    • Mar 13, 2017 at 06:00 PM

      Lol! Well, I wasn't really crying out for friendly minions to comb my profile and upvote my answers, but... ;)

      Actually, I think you're right, it's probably a quirk of the system and not something someone did intentionally. As evidence for that, since posting here I have come across another couple posts where other people's answers were marked as accepted but also had a -1 vote score.

      Yeah, I'm pretty sure in this case the OP didn't have any problem with my answer, as not only did he accept it, but he seemed pretty happy in his response to it. So, I'm going with system bug.

    • Mar 13, 2017 at 06:03 PM

      Oh, and as for seeing who is doing the downvoting, I'm not sure if that's a good idea in general. But, what is weird is that as moderators, we can see who upvoted, but not who downvoted, which I do find odd.

      • Mar 13, 2017 at 07:02 PM

        If the moderators can see who upvoted then they should also be able to see who downvoted. Or at least some Super-moderators should see this information. It would help to find out what happened in the odd cases.

        Voting is not very intuitive on SCN, unfortunately. I'd very much prefer it looked like on Idea Place where we can clearly see whether we voted already and how. In this case it's also clear how to cancel the vote. On SCN it's easy to make a mistake and downvote unintentionally.

        I wouldn't be surprised though if some unhappy SCN members are just walking around randomly downvoting the moderator answers as some kind of retaliation.

        By the way - oldie but goodie. "Unloved by most, hated by some, ignored by others." I think we need Hug a Moderator day. :)

        • Mar 13, 2017 at 07:12 PM

          Oh, that is perfect! How did I never see that blog by the inestimable Mr Billingham before? Yes, he pretty much describes it precisely. Especially the part about "why on earth would anyone say yes to this?" Of course... mwah-ha-ha-ha! The power! I can feel it flowing through my veins!

  • Mar 13, 2017 at 07:17 PM

    On the 'positive' side (negative vote pun is intentional) - your karma points are not impacted by the down-vote (accidental or otherwise). I do agree that votes should be fully transparent, and the same for any social media likes, etc.

    • Mar 13, 2017 at 07:29 PM

      Huh, I didn't realize that. I suppose that explains why mods can't see the downvotes, only upvotes and likes, since the tool for doing so is actually a karma tracking tool.

      How the bodhisattvas must have wished for a karma tracking tool themselves! ;)

  • Mar 14, 2017 at 12:10 AM
    There was, after all, a bug reported not long ago where, if the "up/downvote" score on a post was at zero, and someone accidentally clicked the upvote, then clicked the downvote to undo it, instead of returning the score to zero it would change the score to -1.


    That's not a bug, that's on purpose. If you want to cancel a vote, you have to re-click the same button.

    If you instead click the other button, the system thinks you want to change your vote to that side. Not cancel the previous vote. So if you downvote and then click upvote, the system reads "Ups, meant to upvote." and changes the counter that way. ;)

    PS: Boy, the editor... still!

    • Mar 14, 2017 at 03:35 PM

      Still a bug, in my opinion. Not a technical bug, but a design bug. As in, that's not how people instinctively work with these things. :)

      And yeah, the editor....

      • Mar 14, 2017 at 04:03 PM

        Hello Matt,

        There is actually a way to bring the vote count to '0' if you have clicked an upvote or downvote by mistake. You would have to click the up vote arrow again (or down vote arrow again depending on what you are trying to take back) to cancel it. I agree that it is not intuitive. But instead of clicking on the downvote (that actually cancels the users previous upvote and adds a downvote instead), you can click on the up vote again to take it back.


        Sajid Amir

        • Mar 14, 2017 at 04:31 PM

          However, since no one understands this (it's really not intuitive), it doesn't happen that way in "real life." I get it that under the hood the algorithm is trying to prevent the user from clicking upvote or downvote multiple times, which is appropriate. However, there isn't even any visual indication if the user has already clicked one way or the other.

          For instance, imagine coming across an older post (perhaps from shortly after launch) that has a positive number of votes -- we'll say the number stands at 7. The post is vaguely familiar, but regardless, you like it, so you click upvote. Except that what you forgot is that you read this same post five months ago (or a year ago), and you already upvoted it then. There's no indication of this -- the button isn't greyed out -- so what do you see when you click upvote? Very confusingly, the number decrements, goes down to 6, because what you just did was cancel your previous, forgotten, upvote. If you're a power user who fully understands the workings of this platform, you realize what happened, and click it again to restore your previous upvote (presumably that works). If you're a regular user, however, you assume there's a bug and head straight over to Using to lodge a complaint with your friend, Sajid. And poor Sajid has to explain, yet again, how the system works. Sajid is a patient man, and a polite one, but even he must be getting tired of this.

          As an alternative, you've come across this old post that looks vaguely familiar. Five months prior, you thought it was pretty good, and you upvoted it. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, however, and now not only have you forgotten having read this post, but you've also learned that it's full of inaccuracies and is misleading. So, you don't think it's so good anymore. So -- you downvote it. You expect to see that number 7 decrement to 6, but what actually happens? It decrements to 5! Ok, you didn't like the post, so you're not exactly unhappy to see a double-downvote be registered, but you do feel this is inherently unfair. It isn't really, since this truly is a case of changing your vote from +1 to -1, but in the moment it looks a lot more like a -2, since you forgot your previous +1 vote and there's no visual indication that you previously voted. Once again, you trot over to the support forum and bug Sajid, and this time he has to spend quite a bit of time researching what happened -- fearful there really is a double-downvote bug -- before he finds in the logs your previous upvote, and once again patiently and politely explains the workings of the system.

          Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, where the grass is always green and the sky is always blue, the voting buttons have an immediate visual indication if you've previously pressed one of them. The upvote button is greyed out, not available. The downvote button is available, but if you mouse over it, there's a hover-tip that says "Change your +1 to a -1 vote." And, the number 7 has its own hover-tip that says "Cancel your +1 vote." This system works pretty much exactly the same, except for the greying out and the hover-tips.

          In yet a third universe (multiverse, anyone?), where there is no grass and the sky is red because we've colonized Mars and live there now, the upvote is greyed out, and the downvote has a hover-tip stating "Cancel your +1 vote." Pressing it once decrements the number once to 6, and now both buttons are available, with hover-tips for "+1" and "-1" respectively. Pressing the downvote button a second time decrements the number to 5, the downvote button greys out, and the upvote hover-tip now reads "Cancel your -1 vote." Oh, and the system requires you to enter a reason for a downvote, a la Joachim's suggestion below. :)

          In both these alternate realities, Sajid is a happy man. He spends his days using SAP to monitor progress on the global terraforming project, while tending a small domed garden, where he grows vegetables adapted to the weaker sunlight and higher cosmic radiation of the Martian environment. They look a little funny, but they're nutritious and taste good. And they're not just potatoes.

          • Mar 14, 2017 at 04:45 PM

            I like this post (just for the unlikely case I might forget that in a few monthes.)

          • Mar 14, 2017 at 04:55 PM

            Well, in reality there's another SAP forum that does almost work that way:

            It shows whether you have upvoted or downvoted, and a tool-tip tells how to undo your voting. (However, it does not allow later changes, telling: "Sorry but you cannot cancel a vote after 1 day from the original vote." – I've rarely had the need/wish to un-do former votes, so that's ok with me.

            Funny sidenote: It runs on OSQA, the free "little brother" of AnswerHub.

            5yzg2.png (5.3 kB)
          • Mar 14, 2017 at 05:19 PM

            Another parallel universe proposal:

            Where 0 - your result and 5 - total result. Up and down will increase or decrease 0.

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            v.png (2.4 kB)
          • Mar 14, 2017 at 05:20 PM

            This is my favorite post on SAP Community from now on. :)

          • Mar 14, 2017 at 09:39 PM

            Matt, you seriously need to get that book out. Get rich and you won't have to deal with NWDI ever again. :)

            +1000 likes. I honestly can't understand how the current design of voting could possibly make sense to anyone. Those AnswerHub people must be already growing something and then smoking it. And I ain't talking potatoes either. ;)

            • Mar 14, 2017 at 11:31 PM

              Working on it! You know, in the two or three minutes spare I have each day, between work, mentor/moderator commitments, volunteer commitments, social commitments, working out, taking care of the family, eating, paying bills, filing taxes, responding to contractors.... oh, and sleeping. Yeah, sleep has to fit in there somewhere, too. At this rate, I expect to publish sometime in the year 2047.... ;)

        • Mar 14, 2017 at 10:28 PM

          This reminded me of one popular cartoon (

          dt160612.jpg (177.2 kB)
          • Mar 14, 2017 at 11:32 PM

            As always, Dilbert completely nails the problem! :)

          • Mar 17, 2017 at 01:23 PM

            OMG Vaselina, why I read this now! (LOL).

            Now I can't think about the new SCN without remember this comic.

  • Mar 14, 2017 at 01:12 PM

    I like how Idea-Place works in this regard: If you down-vote something, you are asked(=forced) to give a comment why you do so!
    -> That would be exactly the info you're looking for.

    Maybe this feature could be implemented in Answers, too...

    • Mar 14, 2017 at 03:36 PM

      Now there's an idea!

    • Mar 14, 2017 at 04:04 PM

      Really cool idea Joachim and I will share with team

    • Mar 14, 2017 at 09:41 PM

      Voting buttons on Idea Place also have a clear indication of how you voted before, which is missing on SCN.

    • Mar 15, 2017 at 10:48 PM

      One reason we did not implement this idea (giving a reason for a vote) to begin with is that in SCN when a reason/comment was required for a rating (we had ratings there, not upvotes or downvotes, as longer-term members will recall), users would enter pretty "useless" comments that did not help the authors or the readers of that content, which led to complaints.

      I have seen, however, a suggestion in another thread here (don't ask me which one) that the user be presented with a selectable list of reasons for a vote. I might be able to support that idea (did that make it to Idea Place already?).

  • Apr 05, 2017 at 10:14 AM

    When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all :) That's why you'll never know who's really behind the vote.. could be probably a cat walking on the mouse :)

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